What the hell do you guys want? One minute we're crying about only having piddly, silly, econo-effing-mising appliances masquerading as motorcycles, the next minute we're lamenting the fact that the latest and the greatest – now available – isn't really what we were whining about in the first place. That we're modest people, of modest means and that we've no greatness except for the realisation that we are, in fact, modest. So all we're asking is some modest middle-of-the-road 600cc single or twin; who said anything about a 1000cc inline four? Goddammit!
I was so deliriously happy last night, I went out got a beer, chilled it properly and savoured it slowly while dreaming about a million things. Things like the next increment and how much closer it would bring me to my dream bike. Things like the fact that I'm ecstatic for the five riding buddies of mine who're going to be able to afford the R1 (with or without finance) and are going to get to ride perfectly legal, up-to-the-minute machinery. Five people who's dreams have come good yesterday. Things like the realisation that 10.5 lakhs may sound like a lot, but it does mean that Yamaha can bring the R1 into India for as little as Rs 5 lakh. So as and when the government reduces the hefty duties it levies, the R1 can become more and more affordable. One day, the gently rising curve of my income will inevitably cross the gently falling curve of the R1... and what a delicious little wait that will turn out to be. Things like the fact that the new R1s will grow old. And when they do, their fast-moving fad-conscious owners (there will be those kind of owners too, it goes without saying) will move on, vacating the still-new saddles for people like me. Things like the fact that the R1, and its surprising sales (wanna bet?) will lure Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and KTMs and they will come running in as well. That within a year or two, the CBU operation will be lucrative and a steady revenue stream will subsidise, support and complement the volume game. Then, my dream garage will take a step closer to reality. Then, I might seriously think about a KTM SuperDuke or 990SM for a second motorcycle.
Yesterday, December 4, 2007, the Indian market crossed a milestone. A milestone similar to the one the RD350 represented. Face it. Since the RD350, we (those who've been intimate with the beast)'ve scoffed at every other machine – too tame, too slow, not sexy enough, haven't we? Same's true of the R1. The RD350 was a big step up in power. This one, by comparison, is absolutely huge. If the RD350 was a four-storey building set in a hutment cluster, the R1 is a 50-storey tall condo full of penthouses. Yes, I know, you just want the spacious 1 bedroom-hall-kitchen on the second floor.
Okay look, let me calm down a bit and put it in a more um, calm perspective.
First of all, this is for those who think they can't (and will never be able to) afford it. Oh come on, its Rs 10.5 lakh not Rs 6 crore. That's Honda Civic, not Ferrari F430 money. Are you convinced that your economic worth to your employer will not even equal one measly Honda Civic. Ever? Is that even realistic? And besides, its one of the absolute best sportsbikes in existence. It's never gonna be cheap. Could you reasonably demand a Lamborghini for Civic money?
Second, we all figure out what our priorities really are in time. And far be it from me to judge you. But if your priority isn't owning a big bike, that's fine and let's leave it at that. No further discussion, then, is needed at all.
Third, do you really think a 400cc single is all you need? How would you know – have you ridden one? Okay maybe you have. When I bought the only four-cylinder motorcycle I've owned, I was in awe. It was huge, fast, capable and frankly, a bit scary. For two whole days I pussy-footed around with it thinking, who the eff needs more power than this. On the third day, I 'acclimatised' and rode it normally. The way I would ride any other Indian machine in the given situation. That evening, it was clear that the bike was going to last less than six months in my garage. In three days, I had begun to outgrown that machine. In six months, I enjoyed riding it, but it was no longer a challenge. A 400cc single? You'll outgrow it in a year. I will almost guarantee that.
You still want a 400cc single? That's easy, you'll probably get one or two before the next year is out. You want an enjoyable 600cc twin? Give it a year more than the 400cc single. They're coming – they have to. But to write mean little things about the one manufacturer who's actually offering you the option of buying their fastest, flagship motorcycle? And to be clear, it does not matter why Yamaha has chosen to bring the bikes in as long as they do it as seriously as they would handle a normal Indian product launch – with service, warranty and spares. The rest doesn't matter. As of yesterday, as soon as I can scrape together the money I can live my dream. Instantly. That's a huge, big deal. As of yesterday, anyone with a dream and a pocket deep enough to finance it no longer has to resort to a quasi-legal import, or wait desperately hoping for someone to open a window and let some light in.
Fourth, where will you ride a 1000cc, 180 bhp rocket in our roads? By that logic, half the cars sold in India are wildly over-speced. And they're flying out the showrooms at a pace that defies all logic. It's a motorcycle, not a screwdriver. A screwdriver is pretty pointless if you don't have screws, or have the wrong kind (I strictly mean the metal ones). But the bike, almost any bike, is more than a tool. It doesn't have to run at peak power all the time, you know. The throttle goes both ways, as they say. A motorcycle is more than the sum of its parts. Its something you fall in love with. And love does not require the engine to be running at peak rpm, or the speedo to be showing the top speed figure. Love is a little bit irrational.
You're writing off a whole stack of motorcycles, each of which are acknowledged as the best motorcycles EVER. Without even riding them. Is that even fair to yourself? Besides, who said we don't have roads. We don't have roads everywhere all the time, that I will agree with. But none whatsoever? Have you looked hard enough? What about tomorrow? Like we said about the bikes some time ago, the roads are coming too. As are the racetracks.
Fifth, assuming that Yamaha, for instance, listens to you dudes, and stops selling these ludicrously over-priced motorcycles in India. You return, instantly, to the same dark ages you have been complaining about. I refuse to believe that is what you want. You've been hankering for progress, someone stands up and says here's a hundred years' worth. You're going to say no thanks, you wanted only three years of it?
Sixth, ... I could go on and on... but I just needed to get these thoughts off my chest.
Clip not the wings of your dreams today, because you fear for their survival tomorrow. For tomorrow may never come.
No offence is intended towards any particular persons. Apologies to all who got offended.
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